In her own words: Rita details great care from UPHS – Marquette Cancer Center

Rita Hodgins was recently treated for aggressive ovarian cancer at UP Health System – Marquette. An advocate for the Marquette County Unit for the American Cancer Society, even she was taken aback by the cancer’s aggressive nature. But through her initial diagnosis and 16-week chemotherapy, Rita was able to recover.

Here is how her experience played out in her own words.


None of us are prepared for a diagnosis of aggressive, advanced cancer. Even myself, who has been a 17-year volunteer for the Marquette County Unit of the American Cancer Society and served on the state board as Vice President.

After seeing my primary physician, Dr. Susan Balmer at Marquette Internal Medicine she recommended a Contrast Dye CT Scan the following morning. My husband and I met with her several hours later and she was straightforward and frank in letting us know that I had a large/aggressive ovarian cancer. She is a brilliant doctor and also a very compassionate and caring health care provider. She was able to secure an appointment for me two days later with a Gynecologist.

A week later, Dr. Jacob Hakkola, Interventional Radiologist for UPHS-Marquette, performed a biopsy. I cannot say enough good things about him as he also was very empathetic and caring. He is a real asset to UPHS. He later inserted a port for me.

Four days after the biopsy, I saw Dr. Ross Siemers, Oncologist for UPHS-Marquette, and had another positive experience as he let me know that I could soon begin my treatment.

When I arrived for my first chemotherapy treatment, I felt anxiety and fear. I was taken back and met the nurse who provided education about the drugs and administered them. I could tell immediately that she was the compassionate, professional, and very experienced, and although she had served many cancer patients before me, I wasn’t just a number to her. She cared that I was comfortable, and I could feel myself calming down and feeling at peace.

Over the past 16 weeks, I have had weekly chemo/immune therapy. I have found that each of the nurses and staff members in the cancer center are extremely well-trained and dedicated to providing the best care for their patients, and they have become not just my health care provider, they have become my friends. I know about their children, their pets, their hobbies and their passions. One thing I can definitely attest to is their passion for caring for the people they serve. I feel fortunate to have been a patient at the UPHS–Marquette Cancer Center, and following my surgery, I know I will return for several more rounds of treatment.

I am forever grateful to have this level of service and professionalism in my community.

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